Have you ever felt like you are talking in to the wind? You propose an idea at work, or offer a suggestion somewhere else about how things could be improved, and all you get is tumbleweed.
I recently bumped in to a Very Important Person from a large organisation I’ve worked with, and mentioned I’d seen a project we’d discussed about two years ago had finally come to fruition. His exact words to me were “It’s been like turning the Titanic”. Sometimes steering the ship can be a frustrating task, especially when progress is very, very slow and even then, may not have come quick enough for some. People will intuitively leave a sinking ship long before the problem is visible to everyone else (last week, I spoke about why we may even need to hold the change) and, if they’re not careful, some organisations – even friendships actually – can pay the price for not doing enough when needed.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try though. Sometimes there is benefit in putting an idea in the ground, and seeing how it grows, or gently giving people a ‘nudge‘ in the best direction of travel.
Here’s what might help:
This week, maybe set the intention to Plant the Seed. As humans, it’s believed we have two systems that govern our decision making: the automatic system (which is intuitive/emotional) and the reflective (deliberate/conscious) system. We move in between the two systems, but tend to spend a lot of time in automatic, because it just makes life easier (thinking, after all, can be exhausting). What we can do is purposefully add things to our environment (or that of others) to take us out of these automatic processes and encourage activity so that we achieve what we set out to do. This could be nudging yourself by putting reminders in your phone to get up and move around for five minutes (if you’ve set the intention to exercise), or placing items on an agenda to ensure they get discussed.
If you’ve got an idea that’s worth sharing, it’s ok to pick your moment and put it forward even if only drip feeding one piece of information at a time. Decide how much to say – and how best you communicate – in these situations; for example, would it be better to put it in writing (e.g. as an email or formal proposal), or would it work informally face to face over a cuppa? It might even be, as Nudge Theory suggests, that we need to give people incentives (ethically speaking) to help them pick the ‘best’ option.
If the people you need to listen aren’t paying attention, you could find ways to communicate this, to let them know why you feel it matters. Some people are scared of new ideas – for lots of reasons – so we should be sensitive to that and encourage them to see the benefits of why it will help.
Don’t feel like you have to keep shouting in to emptiness though, that can be draining. When you’re navigating difficult conversations it’s important to take care of yourself, and that may mean planting your seeds elsewhere.
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© Delphi Ellis 2022